Well, this is unexpected. Google is launching the developer preview of Android today.
Typically, Google waits until its I/O developer conference to seed a preview of its new mobile operating system to developers. However, according to a Medium post from Hiroshi Lochheimer, the Google executive who has overseen the development of Android for the past number of years, the company wanted to do things differently this year.
“By releasing the first preview and asking for your feedback now (in March!), we’ll be able to act on that feedback while still being able to hand off the final N release to device makers this summer, so they can get their hands on the latest version of Android earlier than ever,” he says in the post.
Moreover, thanks to the launch of the Android Beta Program, for the first time ever anyone with a Nexus device can try out the new OS via an over-the-air update. Obviously, Google warns N isn’t ready for consumer use just yet, and the update isn’t available on all of the company’s own devices — notably, the Nexus 5 isn’t supported.
So, what can you expect to get with Android N?
The most significant change is the addition of a split-screen multi-tasking mode. Available on both smartphones and tablets running Android N, the feature will allow users to use two apps on the same screen. They’ll also be able to view videos while in a separate app using a new picture-in-picture mode.
Google is also tweaking how notifications work. Once Android N launches and developers update their apps to take advantage of the OS’s new notification API, users will be able to do more with a notification than simply swiping it away or jumping into the app that sent it. Messaging apps, for instance, will allow users to respond to a message directly from a notification card. The OS will also bundle certain notifications together into one card.
The new OS also adds a number of performance tweaks to Android. Google has tweaked Marshmallow’s battery saving Doze feature to save energy whenever your device’s screen is turned off, instead of just when a device is stationary. Moving forward, Android will also support Java 8.
More details about the update can be found on the Google developer website.